You did not want sacrifice and offering, but You prepared a body for Me. You did not delight in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings. Hebrews 10:5-6
I fear it’s too easy to see Jesus as a means to an end. Here’s how it looks ~ I need forgiveness from my sins in order to gain salvation and Jesus is the One who paid for it. I can look to Him as utilitarian, someone able to give me what I need. I am not taken with the personal cost and the price He paid. I am taken with getting from Him what I need.
I wonder how many sacrifices were made under the Old Covenant without any regard whatsoever to the animal who gave its life. While God never encouraged the worship of animals, He wanted His people to be aware that the shedding of blood was costly. The fact that a sacrifice had to be made at all pointed to the fact that sin was a serious offense. He had much to say about people bringing their burnt sacrifices as a ritual ~ casually checking off their religious boxes. Worship of God, the one who outrageously forgave their sin, was often forgotten in the equation.
Is this not any different than ‘fire insurance salvation’ that is resident in so many Gospel presentations? The fear of hell is what compels us to rush to the altar. Our tears are about us, our plight and then our relief. Fear of death and God’s judgement is a strong motivator to make sure we are not headed for condemnation. We are told that the death of Jesus takes care of our sin problem and by ‘accepting Him into our heart’, our eternal destiny is secured. But isn’t this kind of presentation making Him a means to an end? Jesus becomes a benefactor who got me out of hot water.
Taking this further ~ Does this really encourage worship or am I simply preoccupied that by walking the aisle, I’ve taken care of myself? This may seem like splitting hairs but it’s monumental. While writing this ~ my heart is aching at how easy it is to be selfish in my response to the Gospel. Jesus made His sacrifice all about me but am I making His sacrifice all about Him? God forbid that Jesus made it about me and I make it about me. I consider this scripture from Mark: To love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. Mark 12:33
Yes, someone gave their life to forgive my sins. Yes, I have been justified. Yes, I wear robes of righteousness. Yes, condemnation has been erased from my future. Yes, I live at peace with God and I’m no longer afraid of His judgement. However, the point is not these realities. The point is that I’m to consider, and then worship, the One who sacrificed Himself to provide all this. What should be front and center of every proclamation of the Gospel is the person of Jesus who came to express, with his life, the love of God for us. It is this Love, bleeding out on a cross, that compels me to love him with all my heart, soul, and mind. What pleases God is the worship of His Son and a discipleship based on the joy of my relationship with the sacrificial Lamb. This distinction is what makes the difference between religious ritual and a passionate believer willing to give his life for the sake of a Savior.
Forgive me when I come with open hands and selfish expectations. Amen